Barcelona and Bayern Munich didn’t put on much of a show, but the fans certainly did.
As an American soccer fan, it’s not often I get to go to a match with meaningful implications, so when Heineken offered to take me to the second leg of the Barcelona-Bayern Munich Champions League semi-finals as part of their Road To The Final campaign, I jumped at the chance. (They did not tell me that I would have to face clowns, police, and my crippling fear of heights, but stay tuned to Maxim.com for more on that later.)
The Champions League matches are played in two legs, combining the scores at the end so both teams get a home game. So going into the match, Bayern advancing was somewhat of a foregone conclusion, having pounded Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg in Germany. Did that deter almost 100,000 Barcelona faithful from filing into the Nou Camp - Barcelona’s epic grounds? No, it did not. In fact, even when faced with a four goal differential, the crowd was louder than almost any sporting event I’ve ever attended. Besides, Barcelona scored four goals in the second leg of their match with AC Milan; why couldn’t they do the same against Bayern?
Unfortunately for those 100,000 spectators, Bayern is not AC Milan. In fact, Bayern doesn’t seem to be any club team in the world right now, outplaying the Spanish squad (and every team they’ve faced in the past nine months) from end-to-end. There is lots of talk of Barcelona’s fall from power, and while I’m not ready to jump on their funeral procession yet, the Messi-less squad looked completely uninspired and overmatched by Bayern’s steel-toed back line and lightning-fast counter.
The German fans would not let the Spanish forget it, either. Their fan section was on par with Barcelona in voice and energy for the first half, and far surpassed them in the second, lighting off smoke bombs when Arjen Robben blasted the goal that served as the nail in the coffin from the corner of the box (only to be followed by two more nails: an own goal off of Pique and a header that was muscled in by Thomas Müller, representative of the size and physicality that Bayern punished Barca with).
Towards the end of the match, a reminder piped over the PA system for Bayern fans to stay in their netted-off section after the match until the stadium was empty, for safety. Whose safety this was for, I am still not sure – the Germans ripped down the netting around their sections following the second goal and second round of smoke bombs. Thinking about it, it may have just been for the safety of the stadium’s foundation.
As the 90th minute ticked off and the Barcelona fans started to somberly exit (although “somber” might not be the right word for the man yelling “PUTA!” at the top of his lungs while throwing lit cigarettes and half full beers over the railing), I realized that shockingly few of them had filed out before the final whistle. Although their team was being massacred, 90% stayed until the goose was officially cooked. Take note, Miami Marlins: This is how you do sports.
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